When it comes to keeping tabs on children, parents have one thing less to worry about. Innovative, high-tech tracking devices for kids now give parents a way to track the exact location of their child while on vacation or when playing at the neighborhood park. Here’s a look at some of these devices and how they are helping keep kids safe.
HereO is the creator of trendy watches that come with built-in GPS tracking. Adding to a child’s fashion-quotient, these colorful watches operate with a mobile app that can run on any smartphone. hereO President Daniel Ivesha says the stylish design is a case of ‘form following function.’
“Over 900,000 people report children missing each year,” Ivesha says. “Usually it’s a kid that just gets lost or strays, and that’s an issue I tried to solve. Using this technology, we can solve most of these cases when the kid gets lost; we even hope to solve the more extreme cases of kidnapping by disguising the system as a watch.”
Key features that have created a buzz around the GPS watch include :
- Real-Time Data—Once enabled, parents can use the tracking application to see their child’s location on the map, and track his or her movements in real-time.
- Provision for Safe Zones—Parents can program the device to set up “safe zones” like the child’s school, or a friend’s or relative’s home. Parents will get an alert as soon as their child steps out of the safe zone.
- Enhanced Security—The GPS data encryption means no one else can use the GPS beacon to track the child’s movement. An embedded sensor sends an alert when the device is removed, either by the child or someone else. The child can also trigger an SOS alert by tapping the watch in a specific pattern.
- “Off-Label” Applications—The ability to set up safe zones applies to elderly loved ones with dementia, as well as four-legged family members. Caretakers and pet owners who use the hereO watch system will be alerted if the wearer steps outside a preset safe zone, then be able to track movements via GPS to bring them home safely.
SticknFind has come up with another innovate technology alternative. They use stickers with Bluetooth Low Energy tracking that can be stuck on any flat surface like a child’s locket, a pet’s collar, or even a user’s luggage. The item to which it is attached can then be easily tracked via mobile app. Alternatives such as the GPS-based BluTracker provide a larger tracking radius and a longer battery life.
Launching the BluTracker, StickNFind founder Jimmy Buchheim says, took the diminutive tracking system to a whole new level of techni-cool. “BluTracker is like the StickNFind on steroids,” he explains. “We were able to leverage long range Bluetooth with our own custom RF design and antennas to achieve more than a half mile range. The uses for the device are infinite.”
These tracking devices also address an important pain point for families with autistic kids and elders who may wander. In fact, legislation called Avonte’s Law is being proposed in which the federal government would pay $10 million for GPS tracking devices to help families with autistic children.
John Ryan, President and CEO of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, says the tracking technology could help those families breathe a little easier. “We have seen the unique challenges that law enforcement face when working cases that involve children with autism,” Ryan says. “Their tendency to wander puts many of these children at risk for serious harm.”
Choosing the Right GPS Tracking Device
While there are a number of trackers on the market, parents need to remember a few essentials when choosing the right device for their application:
- Location accuracy
- Battery life
- Size and concealment options
- Panic button or other means of two-way communication
- Tracking app accessibility and ease of use
- Law enforcement integration and response options
Using tech toys to keep tabs on those we love won’t do much good without a plan of action, so NCMEC officials provide resources for devising a plan that helps families work with law enforcement quickly and effectively when a family member goes missing.